The Black Church Mixtape: A Virtual Listening Party will take place at 7 p.m Friday.
Hosted by the Archives of African American Music and Culture and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the listening party is an interactive celebration of the rich, musical legacy of the Black church.
A collection of songs will be played during the event that are representative of the various eras of Black sacred music. Artists like Aretha Franklin, Kirk Franklin and Mahalia Jackson will be covered, along with gospel pioneers Rev. Charles Albert Tindley and Thomas A. Dorsey.
This year, the Neal-Marshall is commemorating Black History Month with the theme of the Black church. AAAMC director Dr. Tyron Cooper said their collaboration with the Neal-Marshall is important in giving students an opportunity to understand the music contextually.
“The AAAMC accounts as a micro-artistic arm of this celebration by providing a peek into the musical continuum of the Black church,” Cooper said.
Dr. Gloria Howell, director of the Neal-Marshall, grew up with Black church music in Mississippi. She said Black church music is a foundational component of the Black experience and what we know as quality creativity.
“The music of the Black church has transcended time,” Dr. Howell said. “The music has evolved and has taken different forms, but the messages of resilience and hope are still the same.”
AAAMC graduate assistant Nia I’man Smith said the virtual listening party serves as an introduction into Black sacred music and a way for the community to engage with the archives.
“We really want to give people a taste of Black music within the church and the history of the Black church,” Smith said.
Smith and her fellow graduate assistant colleagues at AAAMC — Bobby E. Davis Jr., Chloe McCormick and Mia Watts — have played crucial roles in helping to select the collections and musical pieces that will be featured. While Cooper has worked closely with the graduate students at AAAMC to organize the listening party, he said this event is facilitated by and for students.
“Through this event, we’re encouraging the student body and broader community to think deeper about Black music, Black culture, Black church and the Black experience,” Cooper said.
The event is free for everyone. Those interested in attending can complete a brief registration form.
For those unable to attend the event, a Spotify playlist of the songs played during the listening party will be made available to the general public next week on the AAAMC Facebook page.